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French Foresters Abroad: French Empire and the Nineteenth-century Evolution of Forest Science

Thu, March 31, 3:00 to 4:30pm, Westin Seattle Hotel, Olympic


This paper examines the role of cross-cultural and transnational factors in the evolution of modern French forestry. The nineteenth century witnessed the development and promotion of scientific forest management throughout the Western world. In France, the development and codification of forest science drew heavily on the German model, but the nineteenth-century French forest regime developed a distinct flavor, in part through its role in the Mediterranean world. French forest experts helped implement scientific forest practices not only in French colonial North Africa but also in the Eastern Mediterranean, where they served as advisors to the Ottoman state. French foresters abroad encountered both familiar and foreign environmental challenges, and their experiences influenced their perspectives on forest practices in metropolitan France. Ultimately, such transnational French forestry connections transformed Mediterranean landscapes, the nature of French administration, and the social order of societies within and beyond France.